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How do you finish tasks when you are emotionally down

How do you finish tasks when you are emotionally down

Few days back my best friend’s brother called me. He is a non-tech guy and needed a website for his new business. I was happy and in good mood on that day, had some free time for next few days. I said yes and took the work. I started working on it.

However the next day I got some terrible news and went emotionally down. I wasn’t feeling like working on anything and didn’t even open my laptop. My mood was low and I postponed the work for almost a week. He kept calling and I kept saying I will do it. I asked another friend who is also a developer to do it. He did make the website but it wasn’t something my friend’s brother liked. I couldn’t ask my friend to redo it again.

I finally told myself, if I don’t do this I will be in bad position. That moment, though I was still in bad mood, I asked myself “why am I feeling so lazy and clumsy to finish this”. There were all scary thoughts running through my head. I decided I will focus and put efforts on this website for just 25 minutes. I put my phone and laptop in do not disturb mode and started a pomodoro of 25 minutes. I decided – regardless of how I feel or whatever happens I am not going to stop doing the work for 25 minutes. That 25 minutes made the whole difference.

That 25 minutes inspired me to put another 25 minutes. I worked again for another 25 minutes. This time it built momentum. I’ve started another 50 minute pomodoro. Then a 90 minute pomodoro. You know what, after this the website went live. My friend’s brother liked it, he asked me to do some minor tweaks, which I did and re-launched. Finally it took 4 hours to finish the website which I was postponing for the last 1 week.

When I reflected this whole process, the simple formula popped up.

Taking action makes you feel good which in turn creates a ripple effect on you to take next action. The reverse is also true. Not taking action makes you feel down, which in turn builds resistance for you.

So remember whenever you feel down or not feeling like doing some important work, it means you are in a negative cycle. Just 1 focused Action is all it takes to break the cycle. If 25 minute session feels difficult to focus then just try focusing for 15 minutes. Even 10 minutes will work. You just need to break the negative cycle.

Also remember feelings are temporary. Sometimes they are illusions or limiting beliefs. They could also be your thought distortions. Whenever you have negative thoughts or feelings about doing some work, try using your logical or rational mind to do the task and put some focused time.

Remember momentum starts with first action regardless of how you feel when starting it.

Another important thing to learn from this is that we overestimate our work when we are low. At times we may feel overwhelmed, thinking about consquences and past negative experiences about the work even though it isn’t too big. If we don’t know how much time certain task takes or we are feeling overwhelmed, it is just enough to put consistent productive effort without feeling rushed to finish it to build the momentum.